Early spring, a favorite time of year for many fly fishermen, is also a period when weather can be extremely variable. My observations have been that dependable insect hatches in reasonably large quantities do not happen until consistent weather conditions occur, especially those regular warm sunny periods around miday and early afternoon. Perhaps this is so because evolution has conditioned better insect survivability during warmer and more stable environmental conditions. But in spite of some very wild weather in early spring, hatches sometime occur in surprising quantities, enough so that suddenly huge trout will be crazily gulping surface insects and send you into shivers as you hurry to change to a dry fly! And how woeful is the fly fisherman who has not come equipped with at least some dry flies to try to match the hatch. I have found that the Humpy fly, tied in a wide range of sizes, can be an answer to the puzzle of how to catch early season trout on a dry line. It is similar to the old standby, the Tom Thumb, but the Humpy body can be tied in any number of colors and that is a good part of the secret to better match the hatch when they occur on those early spring days. This month we will examine the Humpy dry fly in detail.
The great variation in hook size as well as different body colors is what often gives you an advantage over having more exact copies of insects, whether chironomids, mayflies or sedges. In other words, if you have a good supply of Humpies of different colors and sizes in your fly box, you may not need any other type of dry fly to successfully catch fish when those surface hatches develop! Start by either dubbing a body if you are using seal hair or winding a piece of wool or mohair to form a fairly thin body hook bend to hook eye. Then select a clump of either deer or elk hair about twice as long as the hook shank. I prefer the durability of elk but sometimes the more gray appearance of deer hair is a better match for mayflies. Place the clump with the larger cut end at the hook eye and parallel to the hook shank so that the hair tips are 1/4 of the clump length past the hook bend, i.e., the cut ends also project past the hook eye the same distance as the tail. Now gently wind your invisible thread back and forth to secure the hair above the body so that the body color underneath is plainly visible, hook eye to bend and back to the eye and cinch it there. Trim off the splayed larger ends of the hair at the hook eye. Then fold over about 3/4 of the hair at the hook bend and bring it back to the hook eye where you must securely cinch it down. What you have just done is made a tail with about 1/4 of the hair , doubled the body overlay of hair for better floatation, and by cinching down the remaining hair at the hook eye, an upright hackle or wing has now been formed with the hair tips. The last step is to wind in a couple of turns of grizzly hackle at the hook eye, tie off, cement and you have just completed one of the most versatile dry flies that exists, the Humpy!
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